Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
How we cite our quotes:
Harry spends Book 1 getting used to being part of a community after he has been raised by Muggles who hate him and isolate him at every opportunity. Now, in Book 2, Harry has to experience the rejection of that community that had welcomed him just the year before. How does Harry grow and change during this experience of social isolation? How does this experience foreshadow Harry's later struggles in Book 4 or Book 5?
"So anyway," a stout boy was saying, "I told Justin to hide up in our dormitory. I mean to say, if Potter's marked him down as his next victim, it's best if he keeps a low profile for a while. Of course, Justin's been waiting for something like this to happen ever since he let slip to Potter he was Muggle-born. Justin actually told him he'd been down for Eton. That's not the kind of thing you bandy about with Slytherin's heir on the loose, is it?
"You definitely think it is Potter, then, Ernie?" said a girl with blonde pigtails anxiously.
"Hannah," said the stout boy solemnly, "he's a Parselmouth. Everybody knows that's the mark of a Dark wizard. Have you ever heard of a decent one who could talk to snakes? They called Slytherin himself Serpent-tongue."
There was some heavy murmuring at this, and Ernie went on, "Remember what was written on the wall? Enemies of the Heir, Beware. Potter had some sort of run-in with Filch. Next thing we know, Filch's cat is attacked. That first year, Creevey, was annoying Potter at the Quidditch match, taking pictures of him while he was lying in the mud. Next thing we know – Creevey's been attacked." (11.136-139)
What do you think of Ernie's evidence here? Would you believe him, based on this logic, if you didn't know that Harry is innocent? If the book weren't from Harry's perspective, could Ernie's deductions sound right? Why is Ernie so quick to believe that Harry Potter is the Heir of Slytherin?
Moaning Myrtle was crying, if possible, louder and harder than ever before. She seemed to be hiding down her usual toilet. It was dark in the bathroom because the candles had been extinguished in the great rush of water that had left both walls and floor soaking wet. (13.21)
First of all, can you imagine anything worse than spending eternity haunting a bathroom? Maybe Moaning Myrtle is annoying and spends too much time feeling sorry for herself, but she really does get a raw deal. Secondly, Moaning Myrtle's hysterics mainly get played for laughs during Book 2. She's so over the top, with her crying and her self-pity. Yet she really is isolated from all of the other characters in the book, not only because she is dead, but also because she is so unpleasant personally. She's neither bad nor cruel; she's just supremely annoying. Why do you think J.K. Rowling depicts a dead girl in this relatively unsympathetic way? How might Book 2 be different if Moaning Myrtle were a tragic figure instead of a ridiculous one?